Los Angeles Lakers will look to rectify their shooting woes before the playoffs kick in. Can LeBron and co. improve their shooting stats before the playoff begin?
Lakers have had a woeful start in the NBA Bubble with several players going through their leanest scoring percentage in their careers. When Dion Waiters mentioned that he has never shot worse than this, he actually meant it. Apart from Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers are creating a problem for themselves as we approach the playoffs.
Lets be real Lakers’ fans! The squad has been poor throughout the season in the half court. But with two all-stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis powering their offense and the defense being robust throughout the season, their offensive issues were hidden so far.
However with the loss of Bradley and Rondo and their all-star duo blowing hot and cold in the bubble, their flaws have been magnified. Danny Green, Dion Waiters, JR Smith, Caldwell-Pope and LeBron James himself have all suffered a blip in shooting in the bubble.
Since the restart in Orlando, the Lakers stand last in points per game (106.4), 19th in field goal percentage (43.8%) and last in 3-point percentage (30.3%). To put it in perspective, the Lakers led the league in field goal percentage before the shutdown and were seventh in points per game.
If the Portland Trail Blazers make it through the play-in, the Lakers will be projected to play the top 3 teams in 3-point efficiency in the Blazers, Rockets and Clippers. With most of the Lakers’ stars forgetting their shooting boots at their homes, coach Frank Vogel is up for a mammoth task to rectify it inside the bubble.
Over Reliance on LeBron and AD
The Lakers have relied on their all-star duo to create the shots and score them as well. Davis averaged 26.1 points per game while LeBron James averages 25.4 points and 10.3 assists this season. The statement has been validated inside the bubble in their two victories so far.
The Lakers were disappointing in the game against Clippers itself. However, the Lakers were rescued by Anthony Davis who was in top form through the night as the former Pelicans star scored 34 points, managed 8 rebounds and made 4 assists. LeBron James managed a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds with the star pulling his team with victory with a clutch basket and immaculate defense on Kawhi and George in the last play. The Lakers shot a decent 30.6 % from the 3-point arc and 39% from the field that night.
The Lakers relied again on the duo to bag a victory against the Jazz to seal the top-spot in the west. Anthony Davis had stats of 42 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists while LeBron had stats of 22 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds. The squad had their best shooting stats that night as they made 50% of shots from the field and an 34.6% from beyond the 3 point arc.
The Lakers repeated their story in their third victory against the Nuggets when they shot 48.3% from beyond the arc. But, they relied heavily on their all-star duo to do the bulk of the scoring again. Davis and LeBron shot 9-15 and 9-21 from the field respectively as the squad eked out a win against the Nuggets who rested their starters in the fourth quarter.
Can Frank Vogel trust someone to make their shots in the playoffs?
The Lakers might still need a third player to knock down shots in the playoffs when LeBron James and Anthony Davis might be double-teamed by their opponents. The Lakers loss have exposed their weak shooting percentages in the bubble so far although it can be argued that the Lakers took the foot off the pedal after locking up the first seed.
Frank Vogel will need a third star to make the shots especially against teams like Blazers or Rockets and the head coach can only see one face in the current scenario. The answer is Kyle Kuzma as the third year star has been their best player in the bubble. When LeBron James says that the squad needs Kuz to make shots, it really shows the trust in the third-year star.
From a game winning shot against Nuggets to outscoring AD during the clash against the Rockets, Kuz has looked capable of knocking down shots when required. However, the star is entering his maiden playoff season and will surely face more stern defenses. Kuzma has looked confident in the bubble so far and will look to carry on with his shooting touch especially when the rest of the side has forgotten to shoot the ball.
The likes of Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green and Dion Waiters were exposed during the clash against the stern defense of defending champions Toronto Raptors. The team shot 35.4 percent from the field with 25 percent efficiency from beyond the arc.
LAL are now 6 of 15 from 3 (40%), thanks in large part to @QCook323 going 3 for 4 off the bench.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) August 8, 2020
2-time NBA champion Danny Green has been abysmal in the bubble and will need to make his shots in the bubble. The guard is one of the sure shot players to close out games with LeBron and Davis and will need to step up in the absence of Bradley and Rondo. JR Smith has been a proven shooter in his NBA career but at this stage of his career, the former Cavs star might end up being the downfall for his own team.
Quinn Cook had a great game as he made 5 out of 9 3’s against Pacers but is not expected to make the playoffs rotations.
What to expect from the Lakers in the playoffs?
The Lakers have gone from favorites to win the NBA title to getting questioned to win a first round clash against Blazers. The critics seem to have forgotten the impact of the Lakers defense which has kept them in the games even though they have been pathetic shooting in the bubble so far. However, Vogel will expect Caldwell-Pope, Green and Caruso to step against the likes of Harden, Lillard, Westbrook and McCollum in the absence of Bradley who pulled out of the league’s restart in Orlando citing personal reasons.
LeBron James is a proven playoff performer and the King certainly elevates the players in the squad. The 3-time NBA champion is the best player in the league by a country-mile when the playoffs come around. With Anthony Davis alongside him, the duo who will be expected to play 40+ minutes every night might overshadow the flaws in the teams.
Veterans like Dwight Howard, Danny Green, JR Smith, Dion Waiters and Rajon Rondo will look to step up their game during the playoffs and their experience should have a calming effect on the squad. The return of Rondo will be a big relief for the squad as the playmaker is essential to lead the team in the non-LeBron minutes.